Dec 162011

There are a select few people who are so inherently brilliant it would be impossible for them to go without recognition. Christopher Hitchens was one of the most brilliant writers and thinkers of our time. I remember, during my hard core Republican Conservative days (before I saw the light), how much I hated Christopher Hitchens. I MEAN HATED! There was no single person who I could identify who could inspire my ire as much as Hitchens. His hatred of Ronald Reagen and all things Conservative, who at the time was my idol, was without equal. I would read Hitchens, get absolutely pissed that he wrote so well, so eloquently, so articulately, so logically, and yet none of his ideas squared with anything I thought was true.

Then a miracle occurred: We BOTH changed! Around the time I started to severely question my Republican beliefs, his writings started to make more sense. But Hitchens was changing as well. His hard American Liberal, Statist and leftists views, were thrown aside in favor of more Classical Liberal thought. Amazingly, his view changed when the anti-smoking laws began to grow and he started to hate the nanny-state. His ire turned more toward statists and American Liberals.

When Hitchens, an avowed Athiest, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer (from his long-time chain smoking), Christians organized a, “Pray for Christopher Hitchens Day.” Now, this was not by chance as Hitchens had just written a best selling book titled [G]od Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, the title speaks for itself. To give you an idea of Hitchens’s power of thought and prose I’d like to quote a small essay he wrote in response to the prayers:

Even the nicest and most caring religious people are often unaware of quite how rude they are being.

For example, it’s extremely impolite to ask me how, if I don’t believe in your personal god, I can possibly have any sense of morality. And it’s also rather presumptuous, as well as illogical, to suggest that, now that I know of a nasty change in my physical condition, it’s surely time for me to be thinking of an alteration in my mental and intellectual state as well. Leaving aside those who have thanked god for giving me cancer and a future in the eternal inferno, the offer of prayer can only have two implications: either a wish for my recovery or a wish for a reconsideration of my atheism (or both). In the first instance, a get-well card – accompanied by a good book or a fine bottle – would be just as bracing if not indeed more so. (Also easier to check.) In the second one, a clear suggestion is present: surely now, at last, Hitchens, your fears will begin to vanquish your reason. What a thing to hope for! Yet without this parody of concern, religion would instantly lose a vast portion of its power. If I was to be wrong about this, then the faithful would have been praying for me to see the light when I was not dying. But this they mostly did not choose to do.

The deity whose intercession is being implored is claimed to be omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. It is fully aware of the situation. It can make me a believer if it chooses, or wave away my carcinoma. Why should it be swayed by the entreaties of other sinners? My provisional conclusion is that those who practice incantations are doing so as much for their sake as mine: no harm in that to be sure and likely to produce just as much of a result.

“. . . surely now, at last, Hitchens, your fears will begin to vanquish your reason. What a thing to hope for!” Like it or not, it’s brilliant.

Christopher Hitchens, Rest in Peace

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